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A new type of organism discovered in an Arctic tunnel came to life in the lab after being frozen for 32,000 years.
The deep-freeze bacteria could point to new methods of cryogenics, and they are the sort of biology scientists say might exist on Mars and other planets and moons.
"The existence of microorganisms in these harsh environments suggests -- but does not promise -- that we might one day discover similar life forms in the glaciers or permafrost of Mars or in the ice crust and oceans of Jupiter’s moon Europa," said Richard Hoover, an astrobiologist at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center.
The announcement of the discovery Wednesday comes just a day after a team of European researchers said they found blocks of ice just under the surface of Mars near the equator. The Europeans said the ice, between 2 million and 5 million yeas old, could serve as storehouses for life.
Hoover said the creatures he has found might be able to survive in their suspended state for millions of years. The discovery opens up a whole new possibility that a future mission to Mars might be able to retrieve any life that's there.
"Ice samples from this [Martian ice] sea could contain cryopreserved microorganisms if life ever flourished on the surface of Mars," Hoover said in a telephone interview. He is particularly excited about the instant revival qualities of the creatures found in Alaska.
"You might actually get them growing in pure culture," he said of the potential Martian cousins. It would be a "wonderful way of retrieving intact, viable Martian organisms, if they are there."
Water does not guarantee life, but it is a crucial ingredient.
Hoover said the Martian ice blocks are so near the surface that they might partly melt in summer, creating underground pools of water that would allow any microorganisms to grow and reproduce. (Life above ground is considered unlikely due to Mars' dry surface conditions and intense radiation.)
Originally posted by Umbrax
This would be interesting if it could be applied to humans. The main problem now is reanimating. Major cellular damage occurs when the body is frozen. All those rich folk who were afraid of death and got frozen have to wait until there is a solution for the cellular damage. Never mind the ones with only their heads frozen.